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Quirky startups doing things differently in mobile technology (pictures)

From a 3D-printed phone looking to do away with rectangular phones to smart ski boot, meet some of the interesting startups of MWC.

Richard Trenholm
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Richard Trenholm
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1 of 16 Richard Trenholm/CNET

Compact phones

Ready to meet some quirky and interesting startups looking to do things a little differently in the world of mobile technology? Then come with us!

(Shown here: the Dtoor Cyrcle. Read on...)

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2 of 16 Richard Trenholm/CNET

Looking 4-ward

We met this collection of new, quirky and interesting startups at the 4 Years From Now event in the shadow of the beautiful Palau Nacional in Barcelona, Spain.

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3 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Trackboard

Mobiko is a keyboard with a trackpad. Nothing novel about that, right -- except the keyboard is the trackpad. Brush your fingers over the surface of the keyboard itself to move the cursor.

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4 of 16 Richard Trenholm/CNET

Alementary calculus

Fancy a beer? This Taptronics smart tap, already in use at music festivals, measures out the perfect pint to eliminate wastage.

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5 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Oranges and lemons

The Dtoor Cyrcle is a 3D-printed prototype of a simple phone/wearable designed to break the mould of rectangular phones.

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6 of 16 Richard Trenholm/CNET

Spare change?

Spare is an app that lets you skip the ATM and withdraw cash from a nearby store -- just show the app to the shopkeep and get cash from the till. Check out our story to find out how it works.

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7 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

All mod cons

Modular smartwatch Blocks made an appearance at the show -- it's something we've spent time with before. It's a neat concept: the watch face shows all kinds of incoming notifications (messages, calendar appointments, calls, and so on), but the strap is made up of swappable modules. Want GPS for your run? Simply buy a GPS-equipped module and slot it into the strap.

Just want long battery life for the watch? Build your strap simply out of four or five extra battery modules.

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8 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Palm device

Blocks showed off new colours, as well as an updated module design that's lighter and slimmer than before, which should make it more comfortable. The watch is due to be available later this year.

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9 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

In the mix

Augmented Acoustics is a French startup that makes headphones you wear at concerts and music festivals. The headphones are connected to the mixing desk so you hear the nuances of the music as it's played wherever you are in the venue or festival.

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10 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Where's Gumby?

This is Clay Fingers, which connects an app to mouldable Play-Doh-like toys to let kids make models of animals and learn about nature.

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11 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Follow that Lab!

Do you know where your dog is? This smart pet-tracking system tells you the GPS location and movements of your pet, and also feeds information back to vets.

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12 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Addresses for everything

What3Words gives every point on earth an address formed of three random words.

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13 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

For tech moguls

Keen skier? Maybe Carve can help bring out your best on the slopes.

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14 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Downhill data

Carve is made up of a variety of sensors -- including an insole that slips inside your ski boot -- which track all kinds of info about your run down the mountain. Speed and GPS are logged, of course, but it'll also be able to tell how well you're turning, based on the pressure inside your boot.

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15 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

High-tech hydration

Are you getting enough water? This smart coaster will help keep track of your water intake throughout the day and will glow red to remind you to take a sip.

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16 of 16 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

I vant to bot your neck

Make a cute robot yourself by folding the card sheets around the small robotic unit, seen on the right. it's packed with sensors so it can navigate its way around the map seen on the table top.

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